Air Conditioning: What’s that smell?

Have you been experiencing a mildew like odor when your air conditioning is on? We promise this more than likely is coming from your air conditioning, and not yourself or your passengers. That smell often is deriving from a growth of bacteria in the air conditioning system. Frequently, this occurs in older vehicles or a vehicle that gets seldom use. The bacteria build up can also come from excess moisture, caused by the air conditioning regularly being on the maximum setting.

Don’t worry this is can be fixed. Replacing your air filter will help take care of this issue. Your air filter collects dust, dirt and water and is a perfect place for bacteria to live. Best practice is to replace your air filter every 12,000 – 15,000 miles. If replacing your air filter does not eradicate the odor, your air conditioning evaporator may require a good cleaning as well.

Your local Car-X is here to help, so call or go online to schedule an appointment at https://www.carx.com/request-an-appointment/ and we’ll investigate that pesky smell for you.

Car sitting idle for weeks or months? Here’s what you need to know.

car sitting idle, auto repair, car maintenance, car care

Has your car been sitting for weeks? Maybe even Months? If so, there are some things you need to know to keep your car working properly for when you need it. The main issue that you might run into is a dead battery. That is why it is good practice to drive your car for a few minutes every two to three weeks. The last thing you want to happen is to be in an emergency situation where you need to use your car and it won’t start due to a dead battery.

A dead battery is the main concern but there are other issues that can occur with letting your car sit dormant for too long. You many also run into a problem with your tires. Over time, and especially in the colder months, your tires will slowly lose air pressure and if you don’t refill the tires and continue to let the car sit this can cause permanent flat spots. Driving with flat spots on your tires will cause a bumpy ride and even a bit of noise. By keeping your tires inflated and driving your car every couple of weeks, you will avoid this problem and help retain your tire’s shape.

A less common issue that can happen is rodent infestation in your car. Sometimes rodents will take up residence under the hood or even in the exhaust pipe. The biggest problem that can happen is the rodents may chew through wiring harnesses and other parts made of soy and other organic materials used on modern vehicles.

Make sure to do a routine check on your car every couple of weeks. Drive it for a few miles to make sure everything is working. Keep your tires inflated and gas tank full. If you find yourself with a dead battery, flat tire, or even damage by rodents your local Car-X is here to help. Find your Car-X here.

Providing Essential Services During the COVID-19 Crisis

COVID-19 has caused a global health crisis. In these uncertain times we must keep in mind that we all have a job to do. For some that job is to stay home or self-isolate and for others that job is to provide an essential service. The Department of Homeland Security has deemed Car-X to be a part of the essential services. We are here to ensure that you have a safe means of transportation. While providing that service, our priority is to make sure that you and our employees stay safe during your visit. Safety protocols have been put in place at all of our locations to do so. We are taking this matter very seriously and ask you to do the same.

It is important for us all to educate ourselves and stay updated on COVID-19. Make sure you are properly washing your hands, sanitizing your store-bought goods, and following other safety protocols. Being overly vigilant is the tactic to take if we want to stop the spread of this virus.

If you find yourself in need of automotive maintenance/repair please call or find us online at https://www.carx.com/request-an-appointment/. We are here to help. Stay safe, stay healthy!

For more information on COVID-19 please go to http://cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

How to Maximize Fuel Economy

Improving fuel economy is a matter of changing your driving habits. The benefits range from environmental to personal and financial. Here are some easy and effective tips on maximizing your fuel economy.

  • Drive Conservatively – Rapid acceleration and hard braking can reduce your fuel economy by 15-30% at highway speeds (10-40% in stop and go traffic).
  • Use Cruise Control – Cruise control reduces the fluctuations in speed keeping your car at a consistent pace helping to saving gas.
  • Avoid unnecessary Idling – Between 1 quarter to ½ gallon of fuel per hour is used when idling. Turn off your engine until you’re ready to get on your way, restarting your engine only uses 10 seconds worth of fuel. Only shut off your engine when it is safe to do so.  
  • Practice Proper car Maintenance:
    • Remove any extra items from your car – More weight = more fuel your car needs to use
    • Change your oil regularly
    • Check your tire pressure
    • Check your engine air filter and replace if needed
    • Choose to roll down your windows instead of using AC
    • Regularly track your fuel economy

What to Keep in Your Car at All Times

Ask yourself this: If you were stuck with a flat tire, a dead battery, an empty gas tank, a blown gasket or any number of other car troubles, would you be prepared? Most drivers try not to think about the possibility of being in any of those situations, but the fact is it happens more often than what we would think. Throw in the factor of bad weather, especially come the winter months and that probability of getting stranded increases.

When these events occur having an emergency kit can make a large difference in your experience. Having some of these items can help you get yourself back on the road sooner than later or at least can help keep you safe until someone can come to the rescue.

There is no limit to what you can have in your emergency kit but there are some things that are essential to have. Below is a list of those essential items to keep in your vehicle:

  • Lighting – Flares, Flashlight, Reflective Lighting

No. 1 on your emergency kit checklist should be lighting. Reflective lighting triangle and flares will help notify other drivers of the roadside hazard. We suggest getting Led battery-operated flares, they are longer lasting and reusable. A flashlight is also very important to have on hand to help you investigate the issue with your car. It is important to keep extra batteries as well. 

  • Jumper Cables/ Jump Starter

Car batteries often die or lose juice at the least opportune moments, having jumper cables can be the difference between waiting for 10 minutes to find another driver to jump your car or hours for a tow truck to get out to you. Another option is having a jump starter. This device acts like the battery of another vehicle with jumper cables directly attached. The instructions are the same procedure as jumping your battery with another person’s vehicle. Often these devices have multipurpose uses, some come with an air compressor and a flashlight attached. The only thing that you must make sure to do if you decide to get a jump starter is to make sure to charge it. Without a charge it will be useless, so it is always good to have a separate set of regular jumper cables.

  • First Aid Kit

The first aid kit is a must have item for your emergency kit. You can find prepack kits that will have all the essentials for small to more serious injuries. It is easy to injury yourself while trying to get your car back up and going. Be prepared for the worst and always hope for the best.

  • Blankets/Warm Clothing

These items are more essential in inclement weather conditions. If your car loses power completely and leaves you stranded on a winters day or evening the temperature in your car will decrease at a very fast pace. Make sure that you keep these items easily accessible to avoid leaving your car door open for longer than necessary, letting in the cold air

  • Spare Tire & Tools

Most of our vehicles have a spare tire or at least should. You should always double check to make sure you have a spare and to make sure that spare is properly inflated. A flat tire and a flat spare tire a recipe for disaster or having a properly inflated spare tire but no tools to switch out the tires. Ensure that you have the proper tools to use your spare tire when the time comes.

Find an Automotive Brake Specialist in Your Area

Most brake specialists recommend biannual brake inspections. Why so often? Because brakes experience a lot of wear.

No one ever said stopping a moving vehicle was easy. The friction that is created each and every time a driver steps on the brakes will wear brakes down over time.

The good news is that brakes are relatively simple devices. There are really only a few things that can go wrong with them. A trained brake specialist is often able to diagnosis and correct most brake problems in short order. Where do they begin?

Like most automotive problems, brake costs get more expensive when they are ignored. If a driver hears a squeak, squeal, or scrape emanating from the brakes, he should see his brake specialist as soon as humanly possible.

The Rotors

The first thing a brake specialist will check is the brake discs or rotors. If these discs have rough spots or deep grooves on them, they may need to be replaced. Failure to do so could result in complete and total brake failure. New rotors are often affordable at only around a hundred dollars a pair, not including the cost of labor.

The Pads

Brake pads absorb most of the friction and force whenever the brakes are applies. As a result, they tend to wear down quite quickly. If a pad is less than 1/8th of an inch thick, your brake specialist will recommend that you replace it. This is always a good idea. Brake pads are inexpensive and failing to replace them could damage other, more expensive parts of your braking system. Why pay a higher brake cost tomorrow when you can settle it today?  New brake pads not only improve performance, they also eliminate most brake noise.

Brake Lines

If a brake problem is not mechanical, it may have something to do with the brake lines. Because modern braking systems use hydraulics, they rely on fluids to transfer force into pressure. If the fluids are low, the brakes will not work as they should. The most common explanation is a leak in one of the brake lines. If there is a leak, brake fluid and pressure will be lost. In extreme cases, the brake pedal will sink to the floor and the brakes will be more or less useless.

If you experience any of the aforementioned problems, contact Car-X as soon as possible.

“Rattle Rattle Thunder Clatter” – Sounds Your Car Is Making and What to Do About Them

"car engine maintenance","engine maintenance tips

Most of us have experienced a curious sound coming from our vehicle. It is always a little nerve-racking, as some sounds can be indicators of serious problems, while others have simple fixes. Responding appropriately to the sounds your car makes can prevent problems from worsening, thus saving you a significant amount of money. The following explains what each sound means and what you can do to get rid of it.

The first part of diagnosing a noise-related problem is to determine where it is originating. Then establish when the noise occurs and how your car behaves when the noise starts.  Find a Car-X near you to listen to what your vehicle needs.

Backfire loud bang– This can be caused by an uneven air-fuel mixture or incorrect engine timing (slipped timing belt).

Chirping or squealing while accelerating– Loose, slipping belts are typically the cause of such a sound.

Clicking or tapping in your engine– The most common reason for this sound is low oil. If your oil level is good, there could be a loss of oil pressure.

Flapping– This may be a belt that is decaying or something is interfering with one of the fans.

Hissing or sizzling under the hood– If you hear this right when the engine is turned off, something is probably leaking. Any fluid that leaks under the hood hisses or sizzles when it touches the hot equipment around it.

Humming or whirring under your car– This type of sound is difficult to pinpoint because of the echoes and reverberations of the parts underneath your vehicle. A mechanic will have to diagnose it.

Knocking in your engine– This can be caused by using an incorrect fuel or oil grade. Always be sure to follow the correct oil, gasoline, and tire air pressure guidelines in your owner’s manual.

Noise from the front end while steering– May indicate bearing failure or steering linkage wear.

Popping in your engine– Potential problems include a clogged fuel filter or ignition or spark plug problems, especially if the engine misfires with the pop.

Rattling from under your car– This can be caused by loose parts such as your exhaust system.

Squealing wheels while braking– Causes range from small, such as dirt on the brake pads or rotors, to serious, such as worn pads. Brake noises are safety issues and require immediate attention.

Scraping or grinding while braking– If the squealing has gotten worse and now sounds like a scraping sound, this means your brake pads are completely worn down or close to it. This causes damage each time you apply the brakes.

Thumping on hard acceleration– May be felt through the steering wheel or floor & can be caused by broken engine or transmission mounts.

Whining– This sound usually indicates excessive transmission wear.

Each of the sounds outlined above may indicate serious problems. By identifying the what, when, and where of the sound(s), you can have the right conversation with your mechanic and prevent a small problem from growing larger and more expensive.

Does anyone else remember the old “Rattle Rattle Thunder Clatter” commercials? Visit your local Car-X man today.

How to know your wipers need to be replaced

Most of us pay little attention to our wipers, until we need them the most. The rain is coming down fast and thick and you can’t see 5ft in front of you. You turn on your wipers and you can barely see out better than you could before. Your heart begins to race as you guess how far in front of you that car is and where the road lines are, and that is when accidents happen. Before this occurs, take a look at your wipers from time to time and ask yourself these questions:

  • Are they torn, cracked or even broken off in some places?
  • Are your wipers causing streaks or leaving grime after using wiper fluid?
  • Do you hear a chattering sound when using your wipers?
  • Are the wiper frames distorted/bend?

If you answer yes to any of those questions, you need new wiper blades. It is good practice to get ahead of these problems and change your wipers when the seasons change. This is not a costly maintenance, so make the choice to remain safe on the roads and get some new wiper blades. We at Car-X are more than happy to help you replace them if you don’t know how to do it. Call, or go online to www.carx.com to make an appointment today.

Time for Spring Car Cleaning!

spring car cleaningSpring is officially here, and with the season comes time for some Spring Cleaning. Spring Cleaning is not only something for the household or office but your car too. Now that we are all spending more time in our vehicles again, having a clean car can help with a clear and calm head.  Here are some tips to help you with your Spring Car Cleaning:

Inspect your interior
• Take out any unnecessary items. Get rid of that unwanted trash (old receipts, take out bags, empty water bottles).
• Clean the plastic surfaces with a mild spray and cloth and vacuum the remaining surfaces. (For leather surfaces, use a leather cleaner). If you don’t have a vacuum many car washes and gas stations have self service vacuums you can use, some are even free!

Exterior Wash
• It is important to give your vehicle a good hand wash a couple of times a year. Make sure that your car is not in direct sunlight when washing. Use soap specifically for cars, and a hose with a mist-spray nozzle. Wash the fender and bumper areas last. Always blast the underside of the car with the hose to remove buildup. Dry the vehicle with a drying cloth instead of letting it air dry (to avoid those ugly water drop stains).
• Once your vehicle has been cleaned, look for chips, scratches, and rust. Repair any abrasions with a touch-up kit.
• Wax your car if you want it to shine.  Paste waxes are easier to use than liquid waxes; liquid waxes cleaned the best; and spray waxes were easiest to use and left the fewest stains on plastic parts, but they didn’t last as long as other waxes.

Maintenance checks
Windshield wipers – Check your wipers; if they leave streaks, miss areas or if they are ripped, it’s time for new ones. Most blades typically last 6 months, but you can extend the life by wiping them with cloth and glass cleaner.
Tires – Check the tread on your tires and make sure they are properly inflated. The penny trick is and easy way to check tread depth!
Under the hood – Clean engine parts carefully with soap and water, being careful around electrical connections. If you find encrustation on the battery, clean it with water and baking soda.
Headlights – At around the five-year mark, many headlights become ineffective due to cloudy or yellow lenses. This can be dangerous and should be addressed. Headlight restoration kits can be found at hardware stores or online for less than $20.
Locks and hinges – Use lubricant on your locks and hinges. Check your owner’s manual, as some recommend graphite lubricant on your locks.

If your busy schedule doesn’t leave you time to get this all done in one go, break it up into small increments. Take it one step at a time to get the job done.

Spring Cleaning & Maintenance

spring car maintenance

Wash winter’s grit & road salt away and enjoy the Spring weather in your clean ride!

Spring cleaning checklist:

Undercarriage flush – With the onset of spring, all car owners should have their car’s undercarriage flushed.

De-grunge – To remove grunge you need to wash your car with a strong detergent; most car wash solutions do not have the strength to cut through the dirt. Try a solution of 1 ounce of dish-washing detergent to 3 gallons of cool water to wash your car.

Clean and Seal – If your car’s paint feels rough, you need a cleaner. If your paint has scuffs and scratches, you need a heavier polish.

Treat – If your car has a leather or vinyl interior, it needs to be treated before the onset of summer’s heat.

Dashboard Shine the dashboard with a clean fabric softener sheet. The anti-static elements will help repel dust from the dashboard.

Chrome & Windows – To clean chrome & glass, sprinkle Baking Soda on a damp rag, scrub, & rinse clean.

Hubcaps – To clean dirt & grime from hubcaps, spray with Scrubbing Bubbles cleaner. Let sit for 15 seconds and rinse clean.

 

Driving in Hazardous Weather

Preparation, practice, staying calm and caution are the keys to staying safe in hazardous driving conditions. Conditions such as snow, heavy rain, or even thick fog often relate to an increase in traffic incidents/crashes. Don’t let this make you think that a little bit of snow or rain doesn’t also call for precautions when driving. Vehicles leave oils and exhaust that can accumulate on roads and a small amount of precipitation can lead to slick and slippery road conditions. Though, there may be times where you cannot protect yourself from every danger on the road you can do your part to minimalize the risk.

Driving in Fog

Fog is more common in the colder months and reduces visibility and gives an incorrect perception of your current driving speed. If you feel at any point that you are unsafe to drive or if visibility is so poor, make the choice to pull over on the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. If the weather conditions are bad stay in your car and wait for the fog to dissipate. It is not easy to say how long that will take but it is always best to take the safe route when in dangerous weather while driving.

If you must drive in the fog, here are some tips for you:

  • Use your low beam headlights, whether it is day or night. High beams will reflect light back at you in fog, making it even more difficult to see. Use fog lights if your vehicle has them.
  • Make sure your windshield is clear and use your wipers and defrosters as needed to increase your visibility.
  • Always signal well in advance for turns and brake early when approaching a stop to help others see your vehicle.
  • Keep your windows and lights clean to improve visibility.

Driving on Slick/Slippery Roads

Rain is at times not the only cause for slippery roads, any time water gets on the road it can be dangerous to drive. When the weather is dry the oil from our vehicles builds up on the roads and then when it mixes with fresh rain the road conditions can turn hazardous. Large amounts of rain fall, especially when coupled with freezing cold, also leads to slippery conditions.

Tips for driving on slippery roads:

  • Slow down – there is less friction causing reduced traction. When you completely lose traction that is when hydroplaning can happen, sending your car out of control.
  • Increase space between other cars – with less traction you will need more room to brake.
  • Turn on headlights – increase your car’s visibility to other cars.
  • Don’t use cruise control.
  • Drive in the tracks of the cars in front of you – the path the car in front of you is leaving less water on that part of the road.
  • Check your tires – The tread on your tire helps channel water out the way and helps provide traction. If your tire tread is low, you increase the risk of losing control of your vehicle.

For the colder months the same applies to snow and ice. During winter weather conditions it is important to regularly check your car tires for low tire pressure and tread depth, along with your battery. Extreme cold often leads to a dead battery and that is the last thing you want when out in winter weather. Also, remember to make sure your gas tank always has at least a half tank full during the winter.

Help local Minneapolis Franchisee Car-X team return to the East Lake community!

The Bernstein family have enjoyed doing business as a Car-X Franchise in the Lake Street neighborhood since 1980. The first 20 years on West Lake Street and the second 20 years on East Lake Street.

Their team of Pat, John and Billy have been with the Bernstein’s company for a combined total of almost 50 years. The Covid-19 impact and reduction of work has been painful for many including Pat and his team.

The riots, destruction and looting of the East Lake Street store and neighborhood is like salt in an open wound. Please help them REBUILD. They want to get back to servicing their community as soon as possible. These funds will help their technicians get back to work by helping them replace tools and personal items, and keep them working while they clean and rebuild their shop. Thank you for your consideration. Our hearts go out to the family of George Floyd!

Thank you from Car-X Tire & Auto on behalf of the Bernstein Family and the East Lake Street Car-X Team

Are Your Tires Ready For Winter?

With the winter season upon us, it is inevitable we will soon be dealing with colder temperatures, snow, and ice. Properly maintained tires are vital to the safety of your vehicle during the winter months. Your tires are your vehicle’s only contact with the road. Because of this, there are a few precautions you should take before the weather becomes unfavorable.

• All four of your tires should be the same type, size, tread pattern, speed rating, and load index. Differences in these factors can negatively affect a vehicle’s handling and stability.
• Proper inflation and pressure are imperative. Having inadequate tire pressure can cause unnecessary wear, as well as impact your vehicle’s fuel consumption. Keep in mind that as the temperature drops, so does the pressure in your tires. Make it a priority to check your tires’ pressure every few weeks in the winter.
• Have your tires checked for proper alignment and tread. This is something that should be done on a regular basis, but is most crucial to have done in preparation for winter.
• Make sure your tires are in good shape, or get new ones. Tires that are worn, cracked, or out of balance can seriously hinder your ability to drive and control your car. The majority of winter accidents are caused by loss of control of the vehicle on snowy or icy roads.
• Should you decide to get new tires, winter or snow tires are the best bet for those living in regions that have particularly cold and snowy winter months. Snow tires can provide up to 20% better snow traction than all-season tires. With snow tires, you receive the benefits of shorter braking distances as well as more predictable and controllable turning.
• If you choose not to purchase winter/snow tires, be sure to check the tread on your current tires. The next time you do purchase tires, check for deep grooves on the edges of the tires. These types of grooves move both snow and water outwards from underneath your tire, creating better handling and traction year-round.